Menendez introduces TPS bill for Bahamas

Menendez introduces TPS bill for Bahamas

By:  Matthew Brown


A group of Senate Democrats led by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) introduced a bill today that would grant Temporary Protected Status to people from the Bahamas who are unable to return home due to Hurricane Dorian.

TPS allows people to remain in the U.S. and work legally if their home country suffers a natural disaster or armed conflict. The Homeland Security secretary typically designates a country for the status, but the Menendez bill would grant it to the Bahamas for 18 months.

Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized President Donald Trump for failing to provide refuge to Bahamians. He called the legislation a “responsible and humane” answer to the devastation on the island nation.

Trump dismissed the idea of humanitarian protections while speaking to reporters Monday.

"I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers,” he said.

Since taking office, Trump has sought to phase out TPS enrollment. He’s moved to end the status for people from El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan, but those moves have been blocked by federal courts.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Trump last week that urged him to suspend visa requirements for Bahamians with family in the United States.

Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan said Tuesday that people fleeing the Bahamas would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.